“How do you get ten babies into a bowl?”
Heavy sigh. “I don’t know, Chaz.”
It had been about four weeks since the shocking hook-up, and Mikey and Kaitlin were still going strong. Once the initial shock wore off, we settled back into our standard routine. Perhaps I should explain exactly what it is we do around here.
The six or seven of us work in a game development company on the East Coast. We aren’t a big name, nor are we particularly cool, or even good at what we do. But what we are good at is marketing. That’s actually partially my department – I work in Promotional Concepts, the truly sick guys responsible for inane commercials, juvenile slogans, and generally everything that frustrates gamers about seeing ads for their precious games. Our company is usually behind ripoff-style games: a few years back, we made a truly awful first-person shooter we called “Floater,” which was essentially Halo On Ice. Almost literally. The game was designed around the idea of frustrating water-based puzzles, including ice. It received the dubious honor of being the worst game we’d ever designed. That marketing campaign nearly made me kill myself. I mean that half-jokingly. It was at that point that I began to reconcile with myself how little my life before the company mattered.
It didn’t make a difference where I went to school, and it sure as hell didn’t matter that I wasted valuable hours of my life studying for a Psychology class in college, a Psych class that taught me interesting things that I would never need again. I wasn’t hired because I was good at marketing. Actually, I started as an intern, working to replace a woman named Christine. Christine had left on maternity leave, and a wise man once told me that a woman on maternity leave is really just a job opening. I grabbed it and weaseled my way into the company with relative ease. This was actually during my senior year in college, which is even more depressing. I didn’t need to graduate college to get a fairly well-paying job where I make up bullshit for a living.
I had no plans, either. This was my life, as far as I could tell. I play old video games, good and bad, mostly pirated from the web. I have no qualms about watching pirated movies, listening to pirated music, and playing pirated games. I once gave this serious moralistic thought, and came to the conclusion that we all die. As depressing as that was, it was a good enough excuse for me to take my fill of what the interwebs had to offer. As it was, I watched a lot of movies and played a lot of games. Sometimes some friends would be having a party and I would be invited, and that was nice. But after the party came a crushing sense of despair and despondence. I mentioned that I contemplated suicide, right? It happens to everyone more than we like to think. That’s my opinion, anyways. I was sitting at home, after a long month of working on the campaign for “Floater.” I’d had a few to drink – I really don’t drink all that much alcohol, but I find it helps sometimes. I was sitting at the desk in my room, in front of my computer, and happened to glance over at my bottle of Ibuprofen that always sat on my dresser, just waiting for me to have a headache or cold or something. It got me to thinking. I had a bottle of sleeping pills in the medicine cabinet – I’d had insomnia for a while as a kid, and every once in a while I get a bad night of endless awake-ness. I could just pour them all down my throat and keep drinking afterwards. No note, no second thoughts, just sweet release. Then I fell asleep. When I awoke, it was a beautiful Saturday morning, and even the spilled beer couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d just won some battle.
Good God, that was more than I meant to say. Let me get back to talking about the office.
Like I said, it was about four weeks after Mikey and Kaitlin became Mikey and Kaitlin. The only real change, other than that, was the newfound gregariousness of Mikey. He was a nice kid, if a little emotionally needy. Dawn and I both agreed that Kaitlin had probably had a good effect on him, overall. Dawn didn’t really like Kaitlin very much – “She’s like a Russian doll, only instead of more dolls inside here there’s just lead” – but she had to agree that the woman was good. She had effectively ripped open little Mikey single-handedly. She was good at her job, too. She worked on the writing team for games, and she actually brought some really original ideas to the table.
“I like that idea, Steve, but don’t you think it seems a little ‘Fable?’ Why don’t we try this: the PC is slowly being phased out of existence by an evil wizard or something, and as such can only interact with certain objects. It’s kind of a puzzle-rpg-type idea. Whattya think?”
She had a damn good head for games. Not just creative ideas – and certainly, they weren’t all creative – but she backed them up with good ol’ bull.
“I know it seems like another Halo rip-off, but hear me out. Why not have the PC be a time-traveler, hunting his nemesis who lives an orbiting ring around the Earth in the year 2300?”
It was funny, though; as much as our office settled back in to our way of life, with a happy – if strange – new addition, one person didn’t seem quite as at peace. Harry, we noticed, seemed even paler and clammier than was his norm; he looked sick every day, and frequently left work early.
Life was at peace, it was true. But maybe Harry’s wan complexion and gloomy fog caught on to us all. Mikey and Kaitlin didn’t last six weeks, I can tell you that.